WORRIED by the perennial drop in the quality of education in the country, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, Delta State Commissioner for Education (Basic and Secondary Schools), has blamed the decline in standards on the taking over of all primary and secondary schools by government.
He said that the extinction of teachers’ training institutions, the proliferating number of subjects teachable in schools, as well as the free-education policy introduced by various governments are the causative agents.
In his keynote address at the 2014 National Dinner Party of Government College Ughelli Old Boys’ Association, GCUOBA, held in Benin-City the Edo State capital, Muoboghare who spoke on the theme Leapfrogging the Educational Performance of Delta State Secondary Schools, decried that there are indeed many gaps bedevilling the nation’s educational sector, which must be urgently arrested.
He said: “Leapfrogging presupposes that there is a gap between what is and what should be. Indeed, there are gaps between 40 percent performance in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination at credit level in five credits, including Mathematics and English, and 100 per cent; there is a gap between an ideal classroom sitting of 40 students and the 80 per class that obtains in some classrooms; there is a gap between the current quality of teachers and the expected quality of same.
“There is a gap between the attitude towards examinations and what it should be; there is a gap between the parental attitude towards the education of the child and what that attitude should be; there is a gap between the parents who pays school fees for his or her children and that whose children have free education; there is a gap between the behaviour of the proprietor of a public school and the proprietor of a private one.
“There are many gaps. One big gap is that between government as a manager/proprietor of schools and the missionaries or private individuals as managers of schools,” he said.
Lamenting, the continuous face-off between staff unions of public tertiary institutions and their proprietors at the state and federal levels, which had severally crippled academic activities in the institutions, the Commissioner traced it in the 1970’s when governments nationwide, ill advisedly took over all primary and secondary schools and made them government schools.
Quality of education
This action, according to him, exposed government as not just a bad manager of business but also a very bad manager of schools, as the quality of education back in the days was high especially in Midwest region, because the government of the Midwest had just two schools to manage which were the Government College, Ughelli and Edo College, Benin.
He said “These schools were fees paying. Reagents were thus never lacking in the laboratories and the microscopes were adequate and functional.
“Sports facilities and equipment were readily available while excursions were parts of school life. While Government College and Edo College were there as schools of first choice in the Midwest, there were other fantastic schools from among which parents could make a choice.
“We had such schools as James Welch Grammar School, Emevor; Notre Dame College, Ozoro; Immaculate Conception College, Benin; Anglican Girls Grammar School, Ughelli; St. Theresa’s Grammar School, Ughelli; Anglican Girls Grammar School, Asaba; Anglican Girls Grammar School, Benin; Our Lady’s High School, Effurun; Urhobo College, Effurun among others.”
He further pointed that in those days, there were functional teacher training colleges and very good technical schools, owned and run by private individuals, stating today, these institutions are now extinct, in their throes of death, and have dragged down the quality of teachers and teaching.
“The role of government then was mostly the formulation and monitoring of education policy, which it did very well, but with the take-over of schools, by owning and managing them, government gave itself an additional responsibility and burden which it was ill-prepared for.
In the process, both policy making and schools management crashed and we are where we are today because of that misguided action taken in the 70’s.
“The worrisome effect of this action is what the GCUOBA wants reversed through a leapfrog and I agree with you.”
On the way forward, Muoboghare urged government to hands off the running and management of schools and allow missionaries and private individuals own and run them, though government can still guarantee free education by paying the tuition fees of Deltans admitted into schools (a form of scholarship).
“A degree from a university or any such institution should not guarantee a teaching position in Delta State such a person passes through a recertification programme in a teachers’ institute to be established by the state government.